The entertainment media has always provided propaganda services to the government.

coincide with the crusades of the day. When the government was fighting bootleggers during Prohibition, Hollywood produced such films as Little Caesar, casting Edward G. Robinson as the neurotic gangster, Rico. In the name of aiding the war effort, heartless Nazis and feral Japs became stock film villains during World War II. Godless communists popped up during the McCarthy Era in such films as Big John McClain, which cast John Wayne and James Arness as two-fisted investigators for the "House Un-American Activities Committee." Drugged-out hippies, left-wing radicals and black revolutionaries filled the screens during the 1960s and 1970s. Heavily-armed black street gangs modeled after the Crips and Bloods appeared during the height of the Crack Cocaine Scare. Fanatical Muslim terrorists surfaced in the 1990s in such films as Arnold Schwarzenegger's True Lies and The Peacekeeper, the first film for the politically-connected Dreamworks studio. Militias swept across the screen after the 1995 Oklahoma City federal office building bombing, with leaders and members portrayed as illiterate white racists in such movies as the 1999 Steven Seagal vehicle, The Patriot. And when the federal government began warning about the dangers of the Internet, the FBI fought cyber-terrorists in the 1999 made-for-TV movie, Netforce.

Over the years, radio and TV programming has always been generous when serving up government propaganda. One early radio drama called "I Lived Three Lives" was about an FBI agent who assumed the cover of a mild-mannered insurance agent in order to infiltrate the Communist Party. Another early show featured "true" stories from FBI case files. Television was an even more powerful brain washing tool, with cops shows serving up a steady parade of officially-designated bad guys. Marijuana smokers were portrayed as mindless zombies in Dragnet and Adam 12. Jack Lord fought Chinese communist agents in Hawaii 5-O. Greasy Columbian coke dealers were a staple of Miami Vice, while The Sentinel has taken on militias and swarthy international terrorists.

One of the most obvious examples of media propaganda was In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco, a made-for-TV movie about the federal government's fatal 1993 confrontation with David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. It was actually filmed during the 51-day siege following the botched raid on the Davidian's complex. Actor Timothy Daly portrayed Koresh as a crazed cult leader who drove his brainwashed followers to suicide. One scene showed him handing a pistol to an elderly church member, asking if she was prepared to die for him. In another sequence, a young girl, who had left the church before the raid, told a government agent that Koresh had instructed her on the proper way to commit suicide. Forming her right hand into a gun, the girl stuck the "barrel" in her throat. Ambush in Waco was first broadcast on May 23, 1993, a little more than a month after the fiery holocaust which killed Koresh and more than 80 of his followers, including over a dozen children. Since the controversy reignited late last year, the film has been a staple on Court TV.

Obviously, the government does not need to pay the media to spread its propaganda. In fact, on January 17, USA Today reported that many of scripts and shows submitted to the ONDCP were completed and broadcast before the government approved them. This underscores how readily the entertainment industry has kowtowed to the "War on Drugs." Network executives already know what their programs should say about the government's villains of the day.

None of this is a surprise to anyone who has studied the links between the popular media and the government's intelligence operations.The Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare 1945-1960, by Christopher Simpson, is a good place to start. In his 1994 Oxford University Press book, Simpson documents how President Franklin Roosevelt created the Office of the Coordinator of Information in 1941, putting his close friend, Wall Street lawyer Bill Donovan, in charge. The next year, Roosevelt split the responsibilities of the OCI into "white" and "black" operations. The white or overt role was assigned to the Office of War Information, which did things such as suggesting story lines to the producers of comic books, soap operas, movies and other forms of popular entertainment. Some of their guidelines called for Japanese to be portrayed as treacherous and British to be shown as heroic.

The relationship between the government and the media is even closer today. Mergers have put the control of the media in the hands of a few powerful corporations, international business entities which interact with government regulators every day. The result is an unparalleled level of supposedly benign cooperation.

One of the most dramatic examples occurred last year, when the CIA opened the doors of its ultra-secret headquarters to Showtime and Paramount Network

Television for their movie, In the Company of Spies. The film, which aired on Showtime last October 24, concerns a retired CIA operative who returns to duty to prevent North Korea from buying missiles which can carry nuclear warheads to America. Several key scenes were filmed at the CIA headquarters, and 60 off-duty CIA officials participated as extras in the movie. To celebrate the collaboration, CIA Director George Tenet invited the film's stars, including Tom Berenger, Ron Silver, Alice Krige, Clancy Brown and Arye Gross, to a private screening and reception at CIA headquarters. Director Tim Matheson and a host of Washington political luminaries also attended the lavish event. "The CIA's objectives were clear," Roger Towne, the screenwriter who also was the film's executive producer, told the Associated Press. "They hoped to see a human face put on the agency and we had just the story to do it."

While the Salon story sparked a brief wave of criticism, government officials went on the offensive: "We are very proud of the accomplishments of the campaign," ONDCP spokesman Rob Weiner told the Washington Post. "We plead guilty to using every lawful means to save America's children."

Network executives insisted that although they submitted scripts and shows to the ONDCP, they weren't seeking the agency's approval. But Salon turned up several instances of scripts which were altered after passing through the drug office. John Tinker, executive producer of Chicago Hope, reworked a script which had been put aside after receiving a call from Mark Stroman--then of 20th Century Fox Television (co-owner of the show)--who asked specifically for an anti-drug show. Although Tinker denied any tinkering, he told the Washington Post that he felt manipulated. "I would have liked to be told," he related to the Washington Post. "If the President wants us to talk about drugs, can I be called?"

Lost in the short-lived furor was the dark reason behind the arrangement--the fact that inserting political messages in entertainment programing is far more effective than paid advertising. None of the government officials admitted the anti-drug messages amounted to propaganda. Instead, they all insisted ONDCP was merely helping the networks ensure they dealt with drugs in a "realistic" or "accurate" way. But that's simply not true. On television, drug users are almost alway presented as either down and out junkies or first-timers who suffer tragic consequences. For example, the revived Chicago Hope episode revolved around young party-goers who experience a drug-induced death, rape, psychosis, a two-car wreck, a broken nose, a doctor's threat to skip life-saving surgery unless the patient agrees to be drug tested...and a canceled flight on the space shuttle! Just like real life for first time or casual drug users!

In reality, few drug users suffer such fates. Even the government admits that the majority hold full-time jobs. They use drugs occasionally for recreation. Only a fraction of them become addicts. And alcohol kills more people than all illegal drugs combined by a factor of ten to one hundred--hard to say since cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, diabetes etc. are cited as the alcoholic's cause of death.

That's why the government's TV script program is propaganda, not realism. The shows approved by the government are as slanted as any of Jack Webb's tirades against hippies--more subtle but still shocking psychological warfare on the gullible minds of the American people. After all, we are 16 years beyond 1984.